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Troy Hofer 1st graders learn sign language from classmate

11/16/2016, 3:45 p.m.
When Troy Hofer Elementary School 1st grade teacher Kimberly Pokrajac learned that a student with a hearing impairment would be ...

When Troy Hofer Elementary School 1st grade teacher Kimberly Pokrajac learned that a student with a hearing impairment would be joining her class this year, she saw it as a chance to teach the entire class about what it means to learn in a different way.

Right off the bat, she and SOWIC hearing itinerant Leah Casson created a program in the class called, “Sign of the Day,” where Casson and the student, Aliviah Spears, taught some sign language to Aliviah’s classmates every day during their snack time.

“I wanted all of my students to understand that some people learn differently,” Pokrajac said, “and I thought it would be such a cool experience for our class to share.”

The first signs the class learned were how to say, “I love my school.” From there, the class voted on what kind of words they wanted to learn. They were particularly interested in what Aliviah’s favorite things were, including foods and sports. “Rainbow” was her favorite color, and the students learned how to sign that word and the words for other colors, animals, foods, and sports, as well as signs for common school and family terms.

They have already learned the signs for 75 words.